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How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius
Narrated by: Donald Robertson
Length: 8 hrs and 30 mins
5 out of 5 stars (43 ratings)
Regular price: £25.69
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Summary

The life-changing principles of Stoicism taught through the story of its most famous proponent.

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor, psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves stories of Marcus’ life from the Roman histories together with explanations of Stoicism - its philosophy and its psychology - to enlighten today’s listeners. He discusses Stoic techniques for coping with everyday problems, from irrational fears and bad habits to anger, pain, and illness. 

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes listeners on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian - taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day - through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity, and guides listeners through applying the same methods to their own lives. 

Combining remarkable stories from Marcus’s life with insights from modern psychology and the enduring wisdom of his philosophy, How to Think Like a Roman Emperor puts a human face on Stoicism and offers a timeless and essential guide to handling the ethical and psychological challenges we face today.

©2019 Donald Robertson (P)2019 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

"This book is a wonderful introduction to one of history's greatest figures: Marcus Aurelius. His life and this book are a clear guide for those facing adversity, seeking tranquility and pursuing excellence." (Ryan Holiday, best-selling author of The Obstacle Is the Way and The Daily Stoic)

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  • JJ
  • 28-04-19

Compelling

A compelling mixture of philosophy, history and psychotherapy delivers a fascinating account of Stoicism through the medium of Marcus Aurelius.

I’ve enjoyed reading and listening to many books on Stoicism, including Donald’s, but felt that “How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius” helped to deepen my understanding and sense of connection with this powerful school of philosophy.

I found the concluding meditation on death (combined with a view from above) along with Donald’s candid disclosure of his personal journey truly moving.

The author’s voice is well suited to the audio format which enhanced the listening experience.

Thank you Donald for such a worthwhile contribution to the canon of Stoic literature.

Highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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This book got me through a difficult time.

I started listening to this at a difficult time while a loved one was struggling through an illness. I couldn't be more grateful to the whole presentation and it's well written.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Shan
  • Singapore
  • 21-05-19

For troubled souls

I read it while I was going through some tough times. It helped me calm down take a step back and look at live as a whole. My biggest take away from this book is to do my duty without attachment.

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Stoicism comes to life

An excellent book.

I have learned a lot about stoicism over a number of years, partly from following the authors previous work. This book takes that understanding and makes it relatable through the life of one man - Marcus Aurelius.

You may think ‘ what can a Roman Emperor teach me!? - my life and world is so different’
But it is precisely because his life entailed such immense responsibility, instability and danger that prove the tools and techniques of stoicism work, and do so in the most extreme circumstances.

It is an excellent book and I would recommend it o anyone who wants to learn about how stoicism can improve their life or those who already understand the basics who want to take that learning to the next level and learn how one man applied it throughout his life.

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Stoic with a big S

Written and read well by the author.
A great mix of history, philosophy and the application of stoicism in modern life.
I will be buying the physical copy also as it deserves a place in my home.

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brilliant

Simply brilliant. The best stoic book I have listened to. thank you so much for writing it

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  • Eduard Ezeanu
  • 12-04-19

Marvelous mix of a biography with stoicism and CBT

This is one of the best books I've read/listened to over the past 12 months (and I read/listen to a lot of books).

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor is really 3 books in one: 1) a biography of the great stoic philosopher and roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, 2) an exposure of important stoic teachings regarding virtue, resilience, dealing with anxiety, pain, anger and death, and 3) a presentation of modern CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) principles and techniques that connect with the ancient stoic teachings and further develop them.

The three components are intertwined seamlessly in each chapter and throughout the whole book, giving the book a good flow and pacing.

I found the story of the life of Marcus Aurelius very interesting and inspiring, and the stoicism and CBT advice very well explained and useful. Highly recommend this book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • JSchmidt
  • 05-04-19

Stoicism is Relevent

Excellent Book, Excellent Author and Excellent Narration by the author. Everyone I talk to Adores his accent!

Marcus Aurelius believed in the Promise of Philosophy: which is to quell rage, endure pain, conquer fears, eliminate worries, even face the bugbear of death itself with equanimity. Who doesn't want that? It promises a fulfilling (Eudaimonic) and pro-social life. We can really use more of this now, and quick!

These promises are not to be had easily, but they are possible. We see evidence of this by carefully examining the lives of people who have used this system before such as Cato the younger, Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, as well as people of our own time: James Stockdale, David Goggins to name a couple.

To them, Philosophy wasn't something you just thought about, it was something you practiced and did! Dedicating every waking thought and action of your life to. But where are the university professors teaching this, and where are the celebrities and political leaders showing this by example? To be a practice, like Weight-training, Yoga or Brazilian Jujitsu, you got to actually have a program of "stuff" to do and practice, as well as an explanation why. Donald Robertson provides these things in a systematic, fascinating, entertaining, not to mention thought-provoking way. When you read this book, I believe you will be impelled to think and Act, and begin to realize that the promises of Philosophy are not just some impossible dreams, but as a reasoning human being, are not only obtainable, but may already be within your grasp.

I've followed Robertson's work for a few years now, and have looked forward to this book for a long time, and am on my second listen. enjoy! :D

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam M.
  • 16-04-19

I'll be recommending this book to a lot of people

A brilliant guide to modern Stoicism.
An amazing insight into the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.
A well researched companion to "Meditations".
A very accessible and less clinical approach to CBT.
A fantastic introduction to Greek/Roman Philosophy.

I'm quite particular with audio/narration, Listening through headphones, Donald has a great voice but it has a lot of low end and the audio is recorded/mixed with quite a lot of top end/sibilance. If this bothers you, listen through an app that allows you to EQ them out. Or don't and use it as an opportunity to practice virtue.

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  • Bryan
  • 13-04-19

extremely easy to digest

great insight of the ancient stoics with very actionable methods of dealing with adversity. it makes me realize where the best book authors I have read get their knowledge. now I will enjoy going back to bits and pieces of the book for maintenance. A great operating system for life!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-04-19

Helpful/Applicable Stories

Was very interesting. The stories of Marcus Aurelius's life help to frame the proposed philosophies well.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Herrick Spencer
  • 17-04-19

wonderfully approachable book on stoicism

great find, love the Scottish accent. i enjoyed the blend of history and philosophy. I am already putting the advice to work myself.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ronald William C. Brady Jr.
  • 20-04-19

An Introduction to Stoicism with Life to it

"How to Think like a Roman Emperor" written by Donald Robertson, simply put, is an extremely welcomed addition to the thankfully growing list of introductory offerings and Stoic philosophy. As I was reading, I felt like I was reading a book that took what Albert Ellis was trying to do when trying to distill the ideas behind REBT, and re-expanded into a fully fledged philosophy of life, an operating system with ancient roots lovingly reworked for our modern world. Throughout the book, Robertson weaves a narrative between key events in the life of Marcus Aurelius, with his distilled philosophy, while drawing parallels between ancient Stoicism and modern-day psychotherapeutic protocols. This gives the philosophy more meat, for those of us who enjoy reading narrative fiction, the philosophy and tools that Donald is showing to us shine through readily in the narrative pieces, making them all feel more real, prescient, and personal. This is a book I wish I had when I was first going through the meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the author sure makes a pretty good Sherpa of Stoicism. In the last chapter, Mr. Robertson imagines putting himself in Marcus Aurelius's shoes, writing a vivid narrative taking the form of a final meditation on the whole of life and death through the eyes of a long did Emperor. In short, this was one of the most heartfelt and beautifully written pieces of philosophical fiction I think I've ever read, and the last chapter alone is worth the price of admission. Thank you very much for writing this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I hope anyone reading this review with an interest in Stoicism or Marcus Aurelius will give this book a read. It's well worth your time, and easily worth the MSRP printed on the book and then some. Side note: I bought both audiobook and the hardcover book, as I like to read along with audio narration, and as always Donald is pleasant to listen to and it adds a personal touch to the experience of the book, and I would easily recommend this as a companion to the hardcover or alone if you are more inclined to listen to audiobooks.

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  • Dane
  • 17-04-19

my favorite book of all timr

Donal Robertson really outdid himself with this one. Such a well articulated and curated source of stoic wisdom and philosophy

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Vincent Guyette
  • 05-04-19

A necessary companion to 'Meditations'

The Introduction is unfortunately found at the end of the reading. However, the reading itself is passionate and persuasive. I will be purchasing the physical copy as well to help guide me down this path.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Awa Desmoline
  • 20-05-19

A complete waste of money and time for me tbh

If you read Hardot before, or even the author’s previous book, Stoicism and the art of happiness, you’ll find the material here to be neither new, nor original, no interesting.
Also, its account of history and of the exemplary life of Marcus is very simplistic and very doubtful. Makes one feel like people today just want to create an image of Marcus as a good man and virtuous king that he really was not.
The Meditations for the most part - at least the way I see it, is a book on how to manage anxiety. It is more about how to overcome pain than how to overcome pleasure (hence it is less about how to live a life of virtue). Marcus May have been good, i.e. virtuous, in his rule as emperor over his people, but he spent a decade fighting wars, and when people talk of his virtue they only talk of the things he did for his people, and very little about his acts in and of war. They say very little how his philosophy justified his actions in war. A lot of complexities around the life of Marcus are just simply left out, all in the quest to find an ‘ideal sage’ that Stoics should look up to. I personally prefer the teachings Of Seneca and Epictetus, and the example of Cato. I find the teachings in the Meditations helpful too, but I don’t trust any history account of the exemplary life of Marcus.. most of them are either fake of incomplete.